Weed-Control Alternatives: Could Electricity be the New Weed Killer?
Pests have long plagued those who work in agriculture. From the locust in The Bible to the weeds of today building up a resistance to Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, unchecked agricultural pests have long been a threat to our food supply. There have been several incarnations of the best way to deal with weeds and other pests. From archaic hand-weeding to the early plows of the Han Dynasty in China to the DDT environmental disaster of the mid-1900s to the likelihood that Roundup is causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—it’s time for humans to rethink weed control again. We need something that manages to get rid of unwanted plants with minimal environmental effect, like weed pulling, and maximizes time, like chemicals. The answer is right in front of you if you’re reading this online. Developers are exploring the possibility of using electricity as a weed killer.
With the safety of Roundup standing trial and the growing challenge of herbicide-resistant weeds, you might be shocked to learn that idea of using electricity as the solution to weed control has been around since the late 1940s. In fact, patents to kill weeds with electricity date back to 1949.
What is a weed?
It’s easy to identify a weed by sight. They’re typically ugly little vegetation that makes your flower bed look unkept. But the actual definition of a weed is an unwanted wild plant growing in direct competition with cultivated plants. For average people, they are an easy annoyance to address in our private gardens. But for those who tend to farms, golf courses, school grounds or parks, they are much more than an unattractive annoyance.
Weeds are a problem because they compete with cultivated vegetation for nutrients in the soil. For example, if weeds go unchecked on a farm, it can harm the quality of crops. It is this reason that weed management products, such as Roundup, are so popular.
How do weed-control electric kill plants?
Companies are working on hand-held devices and large farm equipment to kill weeds with electricity. The concept of using electricity as a weed killer isn’t new. However, the current method of killing weeds with electricity is.
In the past, electricity was used to basically cook the plants to death. However, this new method doesn’t use high temperatures to kill the plans. Instead, today’s devices send electric currents through the plant. The basic concept is to kill weeds by delivering a jolt of electricity to the weed. Currently, the methods of using electricity as a means of weed control have been built on years of technology. It is most effective when the electric current enters one plant, goes down into the root and comes out through another plant.
Developers say that every part of the plant is instantly damaged. This compromises the plant’s chlorophyll and cell integrity from the leaves to the roots. Additionally, the jolt breaks the plant’s vascular bundles which leads to the plant rapidly drying out.
Methods of electric weed killers
There are currently two main types of electrical treatment for weed control:
- Spark discharges. This method uses high voltage, short duration pulses for weed control, plant thinning and the acceleration of ripening.
- Continuous contact. This method uses an electrode connected to a high-voltage source. As it touched the plant, the current flow for the duration of the contact time.
In both of these treatments, the plant tissue suffers severe damage. According to one company, plants show signs of death within minutes of receiving a jolt.
Why are we at a weed-control crossroads?
There are a couple of very prominent reasons why farmers are trying to discover new techniques for dealing with weeds.
For starters, as mentioned above, weeds are becoming more resistant to herbicides such as Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate. In addition, the future of Roundup—the most popular herbicide in the world—is in danger of being banned in countries around the globe.
Further, farmers spray more than one billion pounds of glyphosate every year. For this reason, more alarms have been raised about glyphosate’s ubiquity in food. The Environmental Working Group released a report stating that glyphosate was found in 31 out of 45 food products made with oats. And in subsequent testing, the group found the chemical in 100 percent of tested products. Glyphosate is common in conventionally grown food items because one of farming’s biggest concerns is weed control. As a result, farmer spray fields with large quantities of Roundup or other glyphosate products to preserve their crops. Additionally, there is concern that the chemical accumulates in the tissue of animals we consume.
Despite glyphosate’s popularity and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s support of the chemical, people have long-searched for an alternative to chemicals. In fact, scientists have tested products that included heat treatment, lasers, and irradiation.
Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup has dominated the herbicide industry for more than four decades. In fact, it is so popular that today more than 160 countries use more than 1.4 billion pounds of Roundup each year. However, over the last decade, countries have begun questioning whether or not the herbicide’s active ingredient glyphosate is a carcinogen.
The Internation Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorized glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans.” The agency made this decision after finding glyphosate caused cancer in laboratory animals.
There have been several hundred lawsuits filed against Monsanto alleging that the company’s product is responsible for the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Does glyphosate lead to cancer?
There is growing evidence that glyphosate is a carcinogenic substance. There are strong links between those who work with large quantities of glyphosate for extended periods of time and the blood cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Glyphosate does severe damage to the kidney and liver. Any disruption to these organs causes the body’s endocrine system to suffer and increasing the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The Carlson Law Firm Is Investigating Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cases
The lawsuit against Bayer-Monsanto for its dangerous product Roundup is currently making its way through the courts. The Carlson Law Firm specializes in handling cases against negligent manufacturers. If you or a loved one have an established history of using Roundup and received a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, contact our firm.
We can also help family members file a wrongful death lawsuit against Bayer-Monsanto.
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- Written by Kazia Conway